Review Summary: A melancholy, but refreshing show of musicsianship, lyricism and song writting that reflects many musicians, but retains originality.
Ash Wednesday is the debut album for singer and songwritter Elvis Perkins (Born 1975).
Although written almost entirely by Elvis, the songs are performed with Elvis on gutiar/hermonica/lead vocals, Brigham Brough on stand up bass, Keyboardist/guitarist Wyndham Boylan-Garnett (Also Elvis' Godbrother), and drummer Nicholas Kinsey...collectively known as, "Elvis Perkins in Dearland."
Elvis Perkins is the son of actor Anthony Perkins and Berry Beronson actor and photographer.
To understand where Elvis is coming from musically you need to know a little about his past; his father, Anthony, died of AIDS in 1992, while his mother was on board the plane that flew into the North tower of the World Trade Centers leaving only him and his brother Ozgood.
Ash Wednesday is a collection of songs he had written prior to September 11, from after college when he began to work on poetry and guitar and began forming his own style of music, to almost present day when he finally put it all down and recorded.
The Music: Ash Wednesday is devided into two, "sides'chronologically ordered, the title track being both the song he wrote after his mother's passing, and the starting song to side, "two".
The songs being mostly melancholy and haunting in aspect, with song titles like, "It's a Sad World Afterall", however sad, arn't weighed down by that so as to be depressing, nor do you get the sense that Elvis is complaining in any way. Rather both his songs and lyrics have an undercurrent of hope, he often returns to images of sleep and dreams and flight, as if we might all wake up at once and find ourselves in a far better place.
Musically relaxed, (only one song uses any sort of electric guitar, May Day!,) mostly consisting of acoustic guitar, piano, a stand up bass that gives the entire album an added sense of groove, and soft but very complementing drums...That is to say that's the basis of their sound, laying their own unique style to dozens of different styles here and there to be picked out.
While You Were Sleeping has a trumpet break with him singing on top that immediatley reminded me of Radiohead from Amnesiac or Ok Computer...
All the Night Without Love sounds like he went into a Bob Dylan tangent for a while, and also features a violin bit(albeit a bit more talented Bob Dylan...no disrespect I love bob dylan...but he can't sing)...
The Night and the Liqour almost sounds like a classy Jerry Garcia...
It's a Sad World Afterall and Emile's Vietnam in the Sky with accompanying female vocals and a very melodic feel is almost Iron & Wine/Kings of Convenience sounding...
Sleep Sandwich, probably my favorite on the cd, sounds like an epic radiohead...
Throughtout the cd they place a touch here and a touch there to add to it, give it depth, class, and style but to make it their own and original at the same time. Casting shadows here and there they never try to copy or to imitate, giving them a unique and mature sound coming from a debut album and young musicians.
Not entirely without help mind, Van Morrison's drummer from Moondance helped both recording drums and guitar, adding his own and a twinge of Morrison's style in some songs. now that's damn bitchin
Throughout the entire cd I hear little pieces here and there that speak of their musical depth and creativeness, making the cd more than hard to get tired of.
All in all it's truely a musical masterpiece with the care, thought, feeling and devotion that's gone into it.
May Day! is the only song that I can't listen to many times over again, (electric instruments being their weekpoint) leading to the 4.5, and Good Friday, a piano and vocals bit, never really builds which I feel it should have being the last song on the album.
Those are the only things that take away from it being a perfect cd in my opinion.
It has whats lacking in todays very gray musical world: Spirit, originality and talent.
http://www.myspace.com/elvisperkins - to listen to: While you were sleeping, all the night without love, Ash Wednesday.
http://www.myspace.com/elvisperkinsindearland - Sleep Sandwich, Shampoo (another Bob Dylan song)